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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a bizarre melange of styles and acting
"Freely adapted" from the Bible, this film takes huge liberties with the stories of Saul, David, and their battle with the Philistines, but is very watchable nonetheless, and for many reasons, one of them just the fascination of its incongruities. The script is in "Olde English", with the "thees and thous" often coming from mouths that are speaking another language (the...
Published on 8 Dec 2004 by Alejandra Vernon

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have saved some shickles by not doing this film
When Orson Welles did not have anything to eat he had to become an actor in films that are hardly worth, at times, mentioning, and yet he tries to do what he can as an actor to save the film. That's typical in this one. The Bible is badly revisited in an episode that is not that particularly thrilling because too much known. The film more or less understands some...
Published on 19 Mar 2008 by Jacques COULARDEAU


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a bizarre melange of styles and acting, 8 Dec 2004
"Freely adapted" from the Bible, this film takes huge liberties with the stories of Saul, David, and their battle with the Philistines, but is very watchable nonetheless, and for many reasons, one of them just the fascination of its incongruities. The script is in "Olde English", with the "thees and thous" often coming from mouths that are speaking another language (the dubbing is hopeless), with two exceptions: The magnificent speaking of both Orson Welles, who makes a superb tormented Saul, and Edward Hilton as Samuel; it is a pleasure to listen and watch both these actors.
The rest of the cast is somewhat uneven, but the dubbing is partly at fault. Among the best are Ivo Payer, a handsome Croatian actor as David, Massimo as a scheming Abner, and Eleonore Rossi Drago and Giulia Robini as Saul's daughters Merab and Michael. Italian circus muscle man giant Kronos plays Goliath, enjoying every minute of his screen time as he is seduced into action by a bevy of dancing girls.
The score uses Ernest Bloch's glorious "Shelomo" theme for the titles, and Carlo Innocenzi incorporates the melody into parts of the rest of the soundtrack (especially when David is romancing Michael), the scenic design uses Nineveh as its inspiration for Jerusalem, and the location shots were filmed in Israel, and Yugoslavia, where the desert turns into lush green fields as far as the eyes can see for the final battle sequence.
I'm a big sword and sandal epic fan, and this 1960 film gets the award for being the most peculiar of the genre. A great curiosity piece for Welles aficionados, who will love his performance; his bloodshot eyes peer from behind the palace columns, a pasty faced mountain of paranoia, a character that is a joy to watch repeatedly. Total running time is 92 minutes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could have saved some shickles by not doing this film, 19 Mar 2008
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When Orson Welles did not have anything to eat he had to become an actor in films that are hardly worth, at times, mentioning, and yet he tries to do what he can as an actor to save the film. That's typical in this one. The Bible is badly revisited in an episode that is not that particularly thrilling because too much known. The film more or less understands some political questions and sees in the attack of the Philistines against Israel an allusion to the menace against Israel from its Arab neighbors. But all that is naïve.

The stone civilization against the metal civilization from the north as Solomon will put it later is hardly seen. A sling and a stone against spears and a sword. This symbolism is present but unexploited. That also means The Semites (and that is a lot more than just the Jews) against those from the North, those who speak the Indo-Iranian languages of Mesopotamia, of Babylon, of Persia. All that is missed, and a lot more.

The harp is also present but not used to its tremendous meaning. The oldest harp we know in this region is Sumerian and not Israeli or whatever. Israeli music is derived from that Sumerian music of some fifteen centuries before, and it is David who is going to establish the music school of the Temple, of the Levites, and also ,the singing school that will produce the prosody and the psalmody of the Ancient Testament, two musical forms that are both the results of older traditions and the root of twenty centuries to come. Apart from that the film is naïve and primitive.

I prefer the version given by Handel in his Saul.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only the names are the same, 14 Feb 2006
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
A bible story like it was never told. All Israel looks like 1960’s Italians. And when Goliath (Kronos) first appears they use 60’s sci-fi music. I’m not sure but I think King Saul (Orson Welles) mumbles in Italian. The story has slightly changed and So David (Ivica Pajer) gets the girl and congratulations from Old King Saul. His rival (no not Goliath) Abner (Massimo Serato) gets the shaft.
The only real sad part was the scene where poor innocent cutie shepherd girl gets electrocuted.
I can not avoid saying “Read the Book”
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great film!, 1 Sep 2014
Well pleased with this DVD addition to home "biblical film" collection.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Big & Heavy, 5 April 2008
By 
AG Stephenson "andrewjoychris" (Newhaven England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Orson Welles looks slow and lumbering in this slow and lumbering adaptation of the Bibical story.

For about 80% of the film, there's nothing but a succession of static (though beautifully crafted) sets and lots of talk, talk, talk. Hey guys - remember these are meant to be MOTION pictures!

There are some good points - Orson's acting carries depth, although he only has a relatively small role; the giant Kronos who plays Goliath is an interesting personality; and the final battle scene has some merits.

Overall, however, you have to work at this one to enjoy it.
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David & Goliath [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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